Congressman Lowenthal Introduces Legislation To Protect Federal Lands In Utah As Wilderness

June 8, 2021
Press Release

Congressman Alan Lowenthal (CA-47), today, introduced the America's Red Rock Wilderness Act (ARRWA), critical environmental legislation which will protect more than 8 million acres of public land in Utah as federal wilderness.

The lands of the Red Rock area of Utah are internationally famous for twisting canyons, unique geologic and biological features, as well as a large number of archaeological sites. The ARRWA would place permanent wilderness protection on these lands, ensuring they remain in their natural state in perpetuity, that the lands remain available for hunting, fishing, and camping, and prohibiting destructive industrial uses such as logging, coal mining, or oil and gas fracking.

The federal wilderness designation is a permanent assignation made by Congress under the Wilderness Act of 1964. A designated wilderness area receives the government’s highest level of land protection and becomes part of the National Wilderness Preservation System. Currently, just over 110 million acres of federal lands in the U.S. are officially designated as wilderness.

"Our nation has been blessed with examples of nearly every type of wilderness our world has to offer, from glaciers to forests, from deserts to mountains, from wetlands to coastlines,” Congressman Lowenthal said. “It is our duty to serve as stewards and caretakers of these fragile and special places, both for ourselves and for future generations. My legislation will permanently protect these precious areas of Utah and ensure that they remain available for all Americans to enjoy, to explore, and to learn from."

The first version of America's Red Rock Wilderness Act was introduced in 1989 by Utah Congressman Wayne Owens, after a group of Utahans submitted a proposed citizen's inventory of areas in the state for wilderness designation.

Congressman Lowenthal’s legislation is cosponsored by 57 House Members and supported by the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance in Utah, the Sierra Club, and the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Jen Ujifusa, Legislative Director for the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance

"America's Redrock Wilderness Act is a keystone in protecting the deserving wild lands of the Colorado Plateau. Designating these lands as wilderness would help mitigate the Climate Crisis by keeping fossil fuels in the ground, preserving the existing carbon sequestration performed by the plants and soils of this arid region. As a vital link in the interconnected chain of largely undisturbed ecosystems running from the Grand Canyon to Glacier National Park, it would also foster greater habitat connectivity for the species that call this region home. We are grateful to Rep. Lowenthal for his leadership and vision to protect these public lands for the benefit of all Americans and help advance the Biden administration's goal of protecting 30 percent of American lands and waters by 2030."

Athan Manuel, Director of the Lands Protection Program at the Sierra Club

“We applaud Rep. Lowenthal for championing the America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act. This bill will offer protection for southern Utah’s iconic and unique Red Rocks, help us fight the climate crisis, support healthy communities, and conserve life-sustaining biodiversity. Proposed protections in this legislation would move us significantly closer to saving 30% of lands and waters by 2030, which scientists say is key in fighting climate disruption and slowing mass extinction. We urge Congress to move urgently on this effort so we can safeguard the lands and waters on which our communities and future generations depend.”

Sharon Buccino, Senior Director, Land Division, Nature Program at the Natural Resources Defense Council

“America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act is a bold, necessary proposal, and the kind of visionary approach we need in order address the nature and climate crises. This bill will enhance biodiversity in the region, mitigate climate change, and permanently protect one of our last truly wild places – including lands sacred to the Native Americans who have lived there for centuries. We cannot afford to wait any longer to protect our most important and threatened natural areas.”

To read the full text of the legislation, click here.